Research Specialist

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  • Career Level Entry Level
  • Job Function Business Development

Job Description


Campus: Tempe

Research Specialist

Job Description

The School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University (https://sols.asu.edu/) is seeking a full-time Research Specialist who will act as Vertebrate Collections Manager and Co-Manager of Digital Data Collections. The relative weight of each task can vary, within boundaries, and depending on the candidate’s particular research and curation interests and qualifications. The position is part of a dynamic, collaborative Biocollections and biodiversity informatics group of faculty, staff, students, volunteers, and other researchers that recently relocated into a unified, 24,000 sq. ft. facility. This new and highly accessible infrastructure is located ca. 2 miles from the main ASU Tempe Campus, and forms part of ASU’s BioKIC – Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center (https://biokic.asu.edu/). As of 2018, our facility and personnel also constitute the primary Biorepository for NEON, the National Ecological Observatory Network (https://biorepo.neonscience.org).

The ASU Vertebrate Collections focus mainly on documenting vertebrate diversity in the Southwest U.S. and Sonoran Desert Region; and comprise the following four collections. (1) Ichthyology Collection; built most prominently by Wendell Minckley, with 24,000 registered lots (70% online) and more than 1,000 stained specimens. (2) Herpetology Collection; with 36,000 specimens (90% online). (3) Ornithology Collection; with 1,000 specimens (80% online). (4) Mammalogy Collection; with 9,000 specimens (95% online). These research collections are complemented by teaching collections located in the same facility. They are now also being complemented by annual additions of 20,000 vertebrate specimens, samples, and DNA extractions being received and accessioned by the continental-scale NEON Biorepository. A related, 3,500 sq. ft. cryo collections infrastructure addition will be completed in 2020. Although the NEON Biorepository has independently supported personnel, curatorial and managerial responsibilities are frequently coordinated across all collections.
BioKIC is a leading promoter of the Symbiota software platform (http://symbiota.org/) and of related biodiversity data representation and analysis tools, and is involved in co-/managing and hosting an increasing range of biodiversity data portals that also feature vertebrate occurrence records. We therefore seek a candidate with a strong background and/or willingness to become 2

highly skilled in biodiversity informatics, database and portal management, and digitization workflows. We also strongly encourage the candidate to develop an active field- and collections-based research program at a level commensurate with the position, and possibly including systematic, biodiversity inventory, and ecological forecasting-related themes. The successful candidate will work in close collaboration with curators, collection managers, students, and researchers affiliated with the Biocollections and the School of Life Sciences. Contributing to our diverse biodiversity/data learning programs is strongly encouraged. A wide range of applicant profiles will be considered.

Job Family

Research & Laboratory

Department Name

Sols Administration & Faculty



VP Code


Scope of Search


Grant Funded Position

This is not a grant funded position and is not contingent on future grant funding.

Salary Range

$44,000 – $50,000 per year; DOE

Close Date




Essential Duties

  • Comprehensive management of the ASU Vertebrate Collections, including physical and digital data holdings. Specimen-level curation and coordination of regular collection/research activities involving organization and conservation, information quality, growth, exchanges and loans, and other collection activities.
  • Additional shared responsibility for co-managing BioKIC’s vertebrate related Symbiota portals and digital data holding; including digitization of primary data, data quality, images, workflows, and other data curation tasks.
  • Good working knowledge of the Symbiota platform or willingness to learn, along with other software/data management and publication tools, will be necessary.
  • Regular coordination of vertebrate collections and sample management tasks with the NEON Biorepository personnel and infrastructure.
  • Active participation in diverse, vertebrate-focused, in-person or online learning and outreach activities; including mentoring of under-/graduate students and contributing volunteers.

Minimum Qualifications

Bachelor’s degree in a field appropriate to the area of assignment AND two years related research experience; OR, Six years research experience appropriate to the area of assignment; OR, Any equivalent combination of experience and/or education from which comparable knowledge, skills and abilities have been achieved.

Desired Qualifications

Evidence of a Master’s or Doctoral degree in Vertebrate Biology, or a related field with a focus on systematics, evolution, ecology, conservation, or vertebrate diversity documentation and forecasting using modern informatics tools.
Evidence of advanced, research-level expertise in vertebrate groups. Curatorial skills will ideally include specialized vertebrate specimen and sample preparation methods such as taxidermy.
Curatorial experience in vertebrate research collections, and experience in supervisory roles and under-/graduate student mentoring. (2 years)
Evidence of effective verbal and written communication skills.
Experience in contemporary biodiversity data standards and tools, preferably including database management and software or web development skills.
Experience in collections-centered teaching and outreach activities is highly valued.

Working Environment

Activities are performed in an office, lab setting and in the field subject to extended periods of field work, sitting, keyboarding, and manipulating a computer mouse; required to stand for varying lengths of. May be required to wear personal protective equipment before entering laboratories such as lab coat, gloves, safety glasses, closed toe shoes, and respirator. Frequent bending, reaching, lifting, pushing and pulling up to 25 pounds. Ability to clearly communicate to perform essential functions.

Department Statement

The School of Life Sciences (SOLS) has provided a vital hub for creative excellence at Arizona State University, with more than 670 faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff, and research that ranges from studies on biodiesel and biohydrogen to vaccine development and the conservation of whales. As ASU’s first academic unit to fully reflect President Michael Crow’s integrated, interdisciplinary vision for the New American University, the School of Life Sciences offers active and evolving platforms for collaborative, cutting-edge research and faculty whose discovery is freed from traditional institutional boundaries.

ASU Statement

Arizona State University is a new model for American higher education, an unprecedented combination of academic excellence, entrepreneurial energy and broad access. This New American University is a single, unified institution comprising four differentiated campuses positively impacting the economic, social, cultural and environmental health of the communities it serves. Its research is inspired by real world application blurring the boundaries that traditionally separate academic disciplines. ASU serves more than 80,000 students in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, the nation’s fifth largest city. ASU champions intellectual and cultural diversity, and welcomes students from all fifty states and more than one hundred nations across the globe.

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AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other national service alumni are encouraged to apply.

Arizona State University is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor and an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will be considered without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.

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Employment Verification Statement

ASU conducts pre-employment screening which may include verification of work history, academic credentials, licenses, and certifications.

Background Check Statement

ASU conducts pre-employment screening for all positions which includes a criminal background check, verification of work history, academic credentials, licenses, and certifications. Employment is contingent upon successful passing of the background check.

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